Written by Michael Clawson
Shortly after moving to Los Angeles in hopes of a fresh start with only her cute cat Giles for companionship (don’t get too attached, Giles doesn’t last long), Sarah (Nicole Brydon Bloom), a soft-spoken twenty-something, is lucky enough to quickly land a one bedroom at an apartment complex where it appears she’ll enjoy the company of highly sociable neighbors. A lively and welcoming community is just what Sarah needs since not only is she new in town, she’s also bitterly estranged from her father after her mother’s recent passing, and we gather that mom and dad were her only close family. Loneliness, however, is better than what Sarah’s tightly knit neighbors ultimately have in store for her. Pain and suffering turns out to be a prerequisite for becoming a part of their cult-like community, and leaving isn’t any easier.
Bloom’s lackluster lead performance is one reason why this mediocre thriller doesn’t amount to as much as it should. Sarah is meant to be somewhat meek—that’s partly why her property manager identifies her as a suitable tenant—but Bloom overplays it, and doesn’t bring enough energy to the role. The rest of the cast also disappoints; when the sinister side of everyone around is Sarah is eventually unveiled, it’s not just unconvincing, it’s eyerolling. Writer/director David Marmor (this is his debut feature) does have good instincts for pacing. His freshest move is placing the film’s major revelation towards the middle of the movie, and focusing on Sarah’s response to her disturbing, imprisoning situation in the back half. Far less impressive is Marmor’s visual creativity. The film is fairly engaging, but there’s nothing interesting to look at.
1BR is currently available on Netflix